Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse - SNAP v. the Pope - challenging abuse in the Catholic Church

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Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Ongoing revelations of pervasive and serious sexual violence against children and vulnerable adults by priests and others associated with the Catholic Church have demonstrated that the crisis is not one of isolated random sexual assaults by errant priests, but is widespread and systemic. In the wake of scandals around the world, experts and investigators have identified policies and practices of the Vatican and high-level officials of the Catholic Church that have enabled the sexual violence. Some observers have estimated that the number of victims of sexual violence by priests and clergy occurring over the past three decades is in the hundreds of thousands, particularly as more survivors come forward and civil authorities begin investigations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

The complaint requests the investigation and prosecution of high-level Vatican officials alleging they are criminally responsible under the concept of superior responsibility as well as for their individual roles in aiding and abetting these crimes, as outlined by the Rome Statute of the ICC. Together with the complaint, more than 22,000 pages of supporting evidence consisting of testimonies, police reports, findings of commissions of inquiry and grand juries, and other evidence of the crimes were submitted.

in the news

UN Committee Addresses Clergy Rape and Sexual Violence as Torture

May 23, 2014, New York, Geneva – Today, the United Nations Committee Against Torture found that the widespread sexual violence within the Catholic church amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited by…

Understanding Clergy Sexual 'Abuse' as Torture

"On Monday and Tuesday, a United Nations committee in Geneva asked the Vatican very tough questions about its track record on preventing and punishing acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.…

Vatican Officials Questioned by Second UN Committee About Sexual Violence

May 5,  2014, Geneva – Today, the Vatican was summoned to appear before the United Nations Committee Against Torture to report on its record in preventing, punishing and redressing torture, which necessarily included its record…

Vatican Summoned to Report to UN Committee on Torture

April 14, 2014, New York  – Late on Friday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), representing the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), filed a report with the United Nations Committee Against Torture…

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Current Status:
April 11, 2014, CCR and SNAP submitted a shadow report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, and a supplemental report on April 18, 2014, that focuses largely on Latin America. The Vatican will appear before the Committee Against Torture on May 5-6, 2014, in Geneva, Switzerland.

February 5, 2014, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) issued its findings in a sharply critical report that focused worldwide attention on the Church's failure to protect children. CCR and SNAP issued this press release in response to the CRC's concluding observations.

January 16, 2014, the Vatican appeared before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to answer questions about its handling of the global crisis of sexual violence committed by Catholic clergy. CCR and SNAP issued this press release on the historic day.

December 11, 2013, CCR and SNAP submitted a supplemental communication to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, replying to the Vatican's response.

On November 25, 2013 the Vatican submitted its response to the Committee's questions on its adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. CCR issues this statement.

July 1, 2013 The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child formally questioned the Vatican on its record with regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

On February 28, 2013, SNAP and CCR submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Fighting for the Future: Adult Survivors Work to Protect Children and End the Culture of Clergy Sexual Abuse," ahead of the Holy See appearing before the Committee to address its compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

CCR filed a supplemental communication with the ICC prosecutor on April 11, 2012, along with several thousand more pages of documentation. The Prosecutor is now reviewing the filings and evidence to determine the ICC has jurisdiction over the crimes.

On September 13, 2011, a survivor-led support group for clergy sex abuse victims formally urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to investigate the Vatican for crimes against humanity. Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, together with their attorneys from the human rights organization the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), filed a lengthy and detailed complaint charging that Vatican officials tolerate and enable the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and other forms of sexual violence around the world. Together with the complaint, they submitted more than 22,000 pages of supporting materials consisting of reports, policy papers, and evidence of the crimes by Catholic clergy committed against children and vulnerable adults.

May 19, 2011, SNAP and CCR sent a preliminary communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor.